Friday, May 31, 2013

Is a past necessary for the main characters of a novel?

I read a book, “Elements of Fiction writing, Beginnings, Middles, and Ends” by Nancy Kress who has written over a dozen books of fiction and is a regular columnist for Writers Digest magazine. She refers to Jane Austin’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice” to illustrate the point that a character changes somewhere within the novel. Elizabeth Bennett changed from her point of view that Mr. Darcy was insufferable to her being in love with him; she also revised her opinion of George Wickham, Charlotte Lucas, and Charles Bingley. These were significant changes but Elizabeth’s past was basically insignificant although she did have an overbearing mother, spoiled younger siblings, an older sister who was too reserved to openly demonstrate her feelings, and a father who gave in to his wife over most matters.

I began thinking of the heroine in “Jane Eyre” Charlotte Bronte’s novel about a young orphaned woman who was initially abused by her Aunt’s family. She left that home thinking only of anger and revenge but Helen Burns taught her tolerance; Jane later forgave her aunt. Jane had certain moral principles that she refused to change and this could have cost her the one true love of her life, Rochester. The most anguished scene, to me, in the book is when Jane emerges from her room emotionally spent and Rochester attempts to persuade her to live in sin with him; in her heart, she wants to go with him but she succeeds in thwarting the temptation and she leaves Thornfield. Of all the ‘Jane Eyre’ movies I’ve seen, not one demonstrates the horrendous anguish of Jane and Rochester as well as the book. In the end, she does decide to return to Thornfield even though she thinks it a lost cause; the question of what she would have done if the mad woman was still alive, comes to mind to the reader. Would she have reneged on her principles for the sake of love when she saw Rochester again? By the way, I have to say that Timothy Dalton does portray Rochester very well in the BBC series of ‘Jane Eyre’.
In writing a novel, it would seem more exciting if the two main characters have a past that evokes a certain behavior or sequence of events, until the ‘change’ occurs but whether or not a ‘past’ necessary is a good question and not one that I, due to my inexperience, can answer. A ‘change’, however, is needed.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My inspiration for a new set of books

The Lady in Red
I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight

I’ve never seen you shine so bright

I’ve never seen so many men ask if you want to dance

They’re looking for a little romance, given half a chance

I have never seen that dress you’re wearing

Or the highlights in your head that catch your eyes, I have been blind

The lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek

There’s nobody here, it’s where I want to be

But I hardly know this beauty by my side

I’ll never forget, the way you look tonight


I’ve never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did tonight

I’ve never seen you shine so bright you were amazing

I’ve never seen so many people want to be there by your side

And when you turned to me and smiled,

It took my breath away

I have never had such a feeling

Of complete and utter love, as I do tonight


Chris De Burgh

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Authors

There are several new published authors, and those not so new, that I have read and love their books; Beverly Kendall, Stephanie Sloane, Joan Wolf, Terri Reed, Julia Quinn, Vicki Dreiling, Shirlee Busbee, Jo Beverly, Jennifer Ashley, Shana Galen, and Judith McNaught. I recommend several of their books.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Antelope Wife

I found this book by Louise Erdrich to complement my research on breastfeeding. Chapter one is entitled, "Father's Milk" and tells the story of a young soldier who, in dealing with a squalling hungry infant, has nothing to feed her except his breast. His breasts comfort and sustain the infant until they arrive in civilization.

The benefits of sexual closeness during birth

I found this among my research:
“All the normal lovemaking techniques used by husband and wife in coitus also have a beautiful augmenting effect on the progress of labor and birth. Deep, warm kisses relax the mother’s face and the other end of her anatomy, too. Nipple stimulation brings on contractions that are more effective. In addition, coitus in the early stage of labor is very beneficial because seminal plasma contains the hormone relaxin (at high levels, no less) which lengthens pelvic ligaments and softens the cervix. Furthermore, tender touches, husky whispers, sustained eye contact, and body odors each contribute something of value to the climactic orgasm of birth.”
-From “The Benefits of Sexual Closeness During Birth,” by Marilyn Moran (Two Attune, Sept. 1992)

This is the continuation of the synopsis on my previous post:

My hero receives the approval of the woman's father and goes to meet with her at her father's home; however, there is a problem. The petulant woman, Blanche, is unwilling to wed him because she's already in love with another man whose circumstances make him less eligible; she refuses to meet with the man waiting impatiently downstairs, despite her father’s insistence and suggests her sister go in her place. Christine is five years her junior and she came to London for her first season; however, since arriving in London she caught a chill that kept her in bed for the two week since they'd arrived. Christine was now well and ready to attend her first ball; she overheard her father arguing with her sister and intervened by agreeing to meet with the Marquis in her sister's place. Although much younger and more slender than her sister, she is much more beautiful, and she is also gifted with commonsense, a trait her sister apparently lacked. The Marquis, impatient at having been kept waiting much too long, accepts Christine's proposal in the interest of time, and agrees to wed her in one week.

Questions for the reader may now arise regarding the girl's ability to breast feed, her ability to please her husband's sexual aggressiveness--he's been celibate far too long--, and whether the match will incur trust and love.
There is an underlying mystery to be solved stemming from the Marquis's previous marital relationship, which causes some controversy between Christine and him that eventually resolves; there is also an added interest involving childbirth; the first wife died due to complications of birthing and Christine's mother died birthing her so the Marquis researches that potential problem too. My hero found a Chinaman to assist with a safer birthing method, and since this story had a successful conclusion, the Chinaman’s methods worked. Even though my story is set during regency times and women often chose not to breastfeed, I decided to make this pertinent to the period as well as providing natural birthing methods that would fit into the time-period even though not widely practiced. It is conversely accepted that the confinement of a woman in labor rarely occurred in the presence of her husband and a midwife often attended her; however, a mysterious Chinaman with Far Eastern magic has some intriguing ideas to add to the story.

My previous career was as an RN working in Obstetrics, hence my interest with breastfeeding and natural birthing methods; I could not resist adding that knowledge to my writing. Modern methods of childbirth changed drastically during my many years in that field, and they now fall back on a more natural approach that includes sexual tactical stimulation, coitus in the early stages of labor, and hypnotism. These methods are known to reduce labor pain and provide enjoyment to the delivery without some of the dangers of intravenous medications and epidural anesthetic. Childbirth does have dangers regardless of which method women choose and applying caution with experienced birth attendants are currently recommended.

It is also a fact that milk can be produced in an untried breast with appropriate stimulation and certain hormone use; given that the story is set in the early 19th century, such hormones would not be available other than those naturally produced. I did some research to discover that some men do enjoy drinking a nursing woman’s milk and some think it is abhorrent; the idea came to me before my retirement that perhaps a man suckling a woman’s breast could enhance the production of milk. This is not dependent on the initial size of a woman's breasts.The principle is simple with breast-feeding that whatever milk is removed, will be replaced; this usually refers to the baby taking what is needed and the breast then replenishes the supply for the next feeding. The more frequently a child feeds, the more frequently the milk is replenished. Some women don’t need the assistance of their partner because they have a plentiful supply but others, this includes me, barely have enough to provide for the infant. I have no idea if my husband would have been willing to drink my milk since neither of us suggested it or even thought of it but the idea has grown in my mind since then. I haven’t heard of any studies being done with this idea in mind but the result of such a study would be interesting.

I'd like to talk about a new book I'm writing and hopefully gain some comments and pointers. I've already been informed that choosing a young heroine and a more mature man is unbalanced but I find myself thinking of when I was so young and inexperienced and I find I still have much to learn despite my waning years. Is it not possible for a young woman to be just as teachable when it comes to sex?

My hero has a problem; at the age of two and twenty, he fell in love with a similar affected young woman but something occurred one week before their marriage that destroyed their love and desecrated their marriage of seven years. During their marriage he forced his conjugal rights twice and on both occasions he impregnated his wife; the first time, his wife bore him a son following a difficult labor and the second time, seven years later, she begat him a daughter. His wife then succumbed to childbed fever, and it wasn't until his year of mourning had ended that he realized he needed another wife. He needed a new wife for two reasons only; first to satiate himself because he'd remained celibate far too long, and secondly, because his one-year-old daughter hadn't thrived due to being passed around to various wet nurses. The relationship with his first wife had destroyed any trust he had with women; he refused to believe in love and did not intended to again fall under that spell. He had studied several books and consulted with various 'experts' on the possibility of having his next wife suckle his daughter and the information he'd gained influenced his decision on who to choose for a wife. He originally decided upon a widow but he wanted someone he could learn to trust and widows were well known for indulging in sexual relationships outside the marriage bed. His daughter had been born with red hair, unlike his own and his wife’s; therefore he wasn't sure whether the child was even his; he was convinced his first wife had indulged with a red-haired man. With this suspicion in mind, he needed a woman who would not, force on him a child from a previous relationship so he decided that the woman who produced only his child, must be a virgin. His research inferred that women who hadn't born children could still produce milk in their breasts if stimulated; he enjoyed suckling women's breasts so he didn't think this would be a problem, especially if his infant daughter suckled her breast too. He went to London and after perusing the ton entertainment, he found a woman he thought would meet his needs and applied to her father; the woman was a virgin with voluptuous breasts and was not in the first blush of youth.